Osteoarthritis Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

It is the most common type of joint disease , affecting more than 20 million people in the United States alone.

It is considered as a degenerative disorder that arises from the biochemical decomposition of the articular cartilage in the synovial joints.

However, the latest research maintains that osteoarthritis involves not only the articular cartilage, but also the entire joint organ, including the subchondral bone and the synovial membrane.

Osteoarthritis can not be cured, but the condition can be established after a number of years and there are many things you can do to relieve your symptoms.

What causes Osteoarthritis?

There is no known cause for osteoarthritis, but it is more common in women. It can develop at any age, although it is more common in older people. The injury to a joint can also trigger osteoarthritis, even many years later.

Signs and symptoms

  • Pain deep joints , exacerbated pain – this is the main symptom of the disease
  • Reduced range of movement – Frequently present
  • Rigidity at rest – It can develop in the morning and usually lasts less than 30 minutes
  • Distal interphalangeal – the joints are the most affected
  • Proximal interphalangeal – the joints at the base of the thumb
  • Inflammatory changes are typically absent or at least not present

It appears when …

  • There are changes in the cartilage (soft tissue that protects the surface of the bone) affecting the functioning of the joints.
  • The cartilage becomes rough and brittle.
  • The underlying bone thickens and expands to reduce the load on the cartilage.
  • The synovial membrane and the joint capsule leads to a rigid and painful joint to move.
  • Sometimes a part of the cartilage can be detached from the bone leaving the ends of the bone exposed. This causes a lot of pain and changes the shape of the joint.

How would Osteoarthritis affect me?

It is a disease that develops over time. Changes will be slow and subtle in some people, while in others, pain and stiffness gradually get worse until the disease process ends.

At this point, the joints look quite knotty, but they are usually much less painful. In some cases they become pain.

Diagnosis

Osteoarthritis is typically diagnosed on the basis of clinical and radiographic evidence.

Simple radiography – It is the method of image choice, because they are very useful and can be easily taken; In the areas of load bearing, radiographs may represent loss of joint space, as well as subchondral bone sclerosis and cyst formation.

Computed tomography (CT) – Rarely used in the diagnosis of primary osteoarthritis; however, it can be used in the diagnosis of misalignment of the foot and ankle joints

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – It is not necessary in most patients with osteoarthritis unless additional pathology susceptible to surgical repair is suspected; Unlike radiography, magnetic resonance imaging can directly visualize joint cartilage and other joint tissues (eg, meniscus, tendon, muscle, or effusion).

Ultrasonography – It is being investigated as a tool for monitoring the degeneration of cartilage, and can be used for guided injections in the joints.

Bone scintigraphy – may be useful in the early diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the hand; they can also help differentiate osteoarthritis from osteomyelitis and bone metastases

Treatment for Osteoarthritis:

Non-pharmacological interventions

  • Patient education
  • The heat and the cold
  • Weight loss
  • Exercise
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Discharge in certain joints (for example, knee and hip)
  • Pharmacological therapy

Pharmacotherapy

There are a number of things you can do to relieve symptoms, and especially pain. Your doctor will prescribe one (or more) of the following types of medications:

  • Topical capsaicin
  • Analgesics (pain relievers) that relieve pain.
  • Steroids, which also reduce inflammation, and can be injected directly into a joint for quick relief.
  • Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – Including trolamine salicylate
  • Tramadol

Osteoarthritis of the knee and hip:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Tramadol
  • Intra-articular corticosteroid injections
  • Surgery

A referral to an orthopedic surgeon may be necessary if the osteoarthritis does not respond to a medical management plan. Surgical procedures for osteoarthritis include the following:

  • Arthroscopy
  • Osteotomía
  • Arthroplasty – Particularly with knee or hip osteoarthritis
  • Fusion

What can you do about Osteoarthritis?

  • Some of the following recommendations can help relieve pain and keep it mobile:
  • Doing exercises to strengthen muscles will reduce joint pain and stress – a physiotherapist can help with this.
  • Massages for joint and muscle pain.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight in order to reduce stress on the joints that support weight.
  • Attend relaxation classes.
  • Try complementary therapies such as acupuncture and aromatherapy.